How to Do an RDL for Beginners: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you’re looking to enhance your lower body strength and improve your posterior chain, the Romanian Deadlift (RDL) is a fantastic exercise to consider.

This compound movement primarily targets your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscles.

Whether you’re a fitness novice or have some experience, this guide will walk you through performing the RDL with proper form and technique.

Fun fact, I’ve recorded over 200 RDL feedback videos for people around the world!

How to Perform an RDL Step by Step

Step 1: Set Up Your Position

  • Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart, feet straight and a slight bend in your knees.
  • Hold a barbell or dumbbells in front of your thighs with an overhand grip.
  • Tip: if your grip becomes a limiting factor, be sure to use some straps.

Step 2: Initiate the Movement

  • Keeping your core engaged (by bracing your abs like you’re about to get punched in the stomach).
  • Push your hips back, not down, and pretend your hands are filled with grocery bags and you’re trying to close the car door with your glutes.

Step 3: Lower the Weight

  • Continue to push your hips back until you can’t anymore – that’s when you cut the range of motion.
  • Focus on maintaining a vertical shin.
  • The weight should travel down close to your shins, staying over the middle of your foot.

Step 4: Reverse the Movement

  • To return to the starting position, squeeze your glutes like you’re trying to stop yourself from going to the toilet, and your torso will start to rise as your hips start to push forward.

Step 5: Repeat and Breathe

  • Perform the desired number of repetitions, breathe at the top of the RDL, by holding your breathe whilst you’re moving this will allow you to keep a solid brace.
  • Focus on controlled movements and proper form.

This is my favourite RDL tip for beginners:

What is Good RDL Form?

Maintaining proper form during an RDL is crucial to prevent injuries and achieve optimal results. Here are some key tips for maintaining good form:

  1. Neutral Spine Range: ‘neutral’ is a range for everyone. The key to limit either ends of the movement – excessive rounding or excessive arching your back.
  2. Hip Hinge: The RDL is all about the hip hinge. Focus on pushing your hips back while maintaining a slight bend in your knees. Your hips should move backward before the weight starts to lower.
  3. Shoulder Position: Keep your shoulders pulled back and down, away from your ears. This helps maintain a strong and stable upper body.
  4. Engage Your Core: A tight core provides stability and protects your lower back and ensure a strong movement. Engage your core muscles throughout the movement.
  5. Foot Position: Your feet should be hip-width apart, and your weight should be evenly distributed through your midfoot and heels. Slightly more in the heels on the way down, and midfoot as you return to standing.

Here’s a feedback video I did on great RDL from:

Can You Do RDLs at Home?

Yes, you can definitely perform RDLs at home, even without a gym setup. All you need is a pair of dumbbells or any weighted object. Follow the same steps as mentioned above to execute the movement effectively.

Can You Do RDLs with Dumbbells?

Absolutely! In fact, using dumbbells for RDLs can be a great option, especially for beginners. Dumbbells allow for a more shoulder position. Hold a dumbbell in each hand while performing the RDL, and follow the same steps for proper form.

This is what RDL with dumbbells looks like:

For more insights into various exercises related to the RDL, check out these articles I’ve written:

Incorporate RDLs into your workout routine and experience the benefits of improved strength and muscle engagement. Remember, consistency and proper form are key to achieving your fitness goals.

Oh by the way, whenever you’re ready, here are 3 more ways I can help you:

1. Grab a free copy of my new workout program, Athletic Curves

If you’ve been exercising more and eating less and still stuck in a plateau then you need the simple 4 week workout that builds a strong, fit and athletic hourglass figure. Download your copy here.

2. Join GWL with Grant connect with girls who lift from around the world

It’s our new free Facebook group where girls who lift from all around the world can chat, learn and inspire each other. Click here to join.

3. Get technique feedback from me
If you would like me to take a look at your lift and offer some tips, just send your video to one of my social media accounts linked down below:


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About The Author

Grant Lofthouse

Grant Lofthouse is personal trainer with over 10 years experience who helps his clients break fat loss, muscle building and strength plateaus by using simple strength and nutrition systems.